Visiting British pair Emma Pallant and Elliot Smales were the big winners as they led the field home at the IRONMAN 70.3 in Dun Laoghaire.
More than 1,700 athletes took part and put their abilities to the test in what was described as a beautiful, breath-taking and testing course with the professional duo taking the laurels.
In the professional women’s race, USA’s Rebeccah Wassner was first to exit the water in 29.44, two minutes ahead of Pallant and compatriot, Amber Ferreira. Tine Deckers (Belgium) followed a further two minutes back.
Wassner was not able to maintain her lead, dropping down to sixth place by the 50km mark. Deckers made up her swim deficit and to move into the lead ahead of Pallant and Ferreira.
Deckers would go on to enter T2 a minute and 45 seconds ahead of Pallant.
The leading pair amassed a sizable lead over the chasing pack over 10 minutes ahead of third placed Ferreira.
With Deckers first out onto the run course, she kept ahead until eight kilometres in when she was passed by Pallant.
With her lead less than a minute, Pallant could not let her guard down but she held on to take the win with a time of 4.48.01. Deckers took second place in 1.28 later, followed by Ferreira in 3rd, rounding out the podium.
Pallant said of the win: “Amazing race, just what I expected, really tough and I think it was all about strength and fitness and sets me up really well for the [IRONMAN 70.3] World Champs. I just wanted a good battle and some confidence before I fly to South Africa and Tine [Deckers] gave me that!”
In the men’s race, coming out of the water neck-and-neck was Elliot Smales and Iceland’s Sigurdur Ragnarsson in 25.24, closely followed by the USA’s Andy Potts who was four seconds back.
It was in transition that Elliot took the lead and continued to push ahead holding a five-minute lead 50km into the bike.
The USA’s Elliot Bach moved into second place ahead of Potts with Ireland’s Bryan McCrystal a further minute back in fourth place. McCrystal managed to move into second place cutting Smales’ lead to 3.20 by the end of the bike.
Bach and Potts entered transition in third and fourth place around five minutes back on Smales.
With Smales over four minutes ahead of McCrystal, Potts quickly moved into third place ahead of Bach and proceeded to chase the second spot.
Potts passed McCrystal 9km into the run but still trailed Smales by over 5 minutes.
Smales, who never looked in trouble on the run, held steady, running to victory in a time of 4.13.57. Potts finished second, trailing by 4.13 with McCrystal a further five minutes back in third.
“I went really hard at the beginning of the bike, got away and expected some people to catch me but it never happened. What a course! Up on Sally Gap, you had every condition today and it was amazing!” said Smales.